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Vast political divide separates Hungarian youth

picture of Péter Márki-Zay and young people

Younger Hungarians show a greater interest in political affairs nowadays compared to the past, but in this respect they still lag far behind their Central European peers at the same age, according to research by András Bíró-Nagy and Andrea Szabó released on Tuesday that was supported by the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung.

Several forms of public activity were examined, from signing petitions to participating in demonstrations. Whichever type of activity was examined, the political participation and interest of Hungarians aged 15-29 were significantly lower than similar young people in the other V4 countries of the Czech Republic, Poland, and Slovakia.

Although Hungarian young people are the least satisfied with their present lives among the V4 bloc, they are, either despite this or because of it, the most optimistic about the future, Their fears are dominated by so-called “post-material issues” such as the climate crisis, social injustice, and corruption, while they are least afraid of crime, immigration and terrorism.

A Muslim neighbor would bother fewer Hungarian young people than a Roma family would. They feel the least negative towards homosexuals and Jews, but 63% of Hungarian youth are anti-immigration. Only 40% of them are proud of their Hungarian citizenship.

The study also found that the vast majority of young people within the V4 would remain in the European Union. However, in Hungary 10% of opposition and uncertain voters support leaving the union, while 20% of government supporters feel the same way, representing the largest political divergence within the V4 countries.

Moreover, the study found that young people were able to simultaneously maintain a Hungarian consciousness and a European identity in their value system. Attitudes on global, national, and local identities were generally similar to each other within the Visegrad countries, while narrow, nationalist thinking is largely alien from the world of Central European 15-29 year olds.

On the other hand, the perception of the functioning of democracy and the political system is quite polarized in Hungary. While nearly 60% of pro-government Hungarian youth say elections are free and fair, only 10% of opposition supporters believe the same. Likewise, more than half of opposition voters, and 33% of all Hungarian young people, believe that Fidesz will only be removed from power by force.

In ideological terms, the term they most agreed with was “liberalism,” at 17%, while “green, environmentalist” was the second most common one, chosen by one in ten 15-29 year olds in Hungary.

Among other results, the research also showed a large political divide in Hungary on the issue of emigration: three times as many opposition supporters (36%), and twice as many uncertain voters (24%), hope to leave the country compared to pro-government youth (12%).

[Népszava]

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